Thermography vs. Mammography

MANA doctors recommend annual mammograms for women beginning at age 40. This practice has reduced deaths from breast cancer by as much as 43%, by helping to find cancers at early stages when treatment is most effective.

But you might be seeing claims that there is an alternative, thermography, which might be equally effective and less uncomfortable. The Food and Drug Administration has issued a “stern warning” to make sure that women know that the claims made for thermography are just not true.

There is no valid scientific data to demonstrate that thermography devices, when used on their own or with another diagnostic test, are an effective screening tool for any medical condition including the early detection of breast cancer or other diseases and health conditions,

Mammography … is the most effective breast cancer screening method and the only method proven to increase the chance of survival through earlier detection.

What is thermography?

Thermography uses an infrared camera to identify patterns of heat in the body. Images taken with an infrared camera show warmer and cooler parts of the body in different colors.

The idea is that cancer, or inflammation in general, causes increased blood flow and greater warmth. The colors in the thermographic images can show areas that might be cancerous.

The FDA allows thermography along with mammography, but not on its own as a screening measure.

Unfortunately, some alternative medicine practitioners offer thermography as a “safer” or “noninvasive” alternative to mammography. Online articles on thermography recommend it instead of mammograms, often including it with dream therapy, iodine tests, and detox programs as potentially useful tools for detecting and treating cancer. They may also falsely claim that thermography works better for dense breasts, or that it can find breast cancers years before mammograms could.

The FDA has asked a number of companies to stop making misleading claims about thermography, and encourages women not to substitute thermography for mammograms. Avoiding a mammogram in favor of thermography could cause women to miss an opportunity for early treatment of breast cancer.

Mammograms are FDA approved for breast cancer detection

Some women hesitate to have a mammogram because they worry that it will be uncomfortable, or because it involves radiation as all X-rays do. If you are concerned about these issues, discuss those concerns with your doctor. Your physician will be able to tell you more about the experience of a mammogram and answer your questions.

The Breast Center is an award-winning breast treatment center. You can contact the Breast Center at (479) 442-6266.